6 November 2009


We’ve been back in Australia for over three weeks, now – a longer time than we were walking the Southwest Coast Path, although it doesn’t feel like it! There’s so much to do here, it’s so familiar, and the time seems at once to fly by and not to move at all. On the trail the rhythm was so steady, so regular that after a week we felt like we’d been walking forever. Before we forget, we have written up a list of highlights and lowlights, recommendations, tips, and things for us to think about next time we do a longer walk. Here is the first section about accommodation and food.


We stayed in B&B accommodation every night, and were lucky not to stop anywhere extraordinarily noteworthy for its badness. The least good of a good bunch were:
Whiteways Guesthouse in Penzance. It was small, a bit noisy, and the breakfast was nothing to write home about, BUT it was also only 55 for a double, so we’re not complaining.
Housel Bay Hotel on The Lizard. This was expensive, booking and confirming was a haphazard affair, and the room wasn’t special, BUT they had a very good breakfast and a lovely view from the dining area. And a bath.
Rashleigh Arms at Charlestown. Also expensive, and we slept really badly due to the hotness and stuffiness of the room, BUT the room was luxuriously big, there was a gorgeous deep bath, the service was good and they made me a flat white for breakfast!
Jago Cottage near Portloe. Nothing at all wrong with the accommodation, though it’s a bit of a hike from the path at the end of a long day, and you might not want to stay there if you don’t speak English!

Places that stood out as being excellent were:
Copper Kettle in Porthleven. The hosts are friendly (we had conversations with people over breakfast who we kept in touch with over the walk) and knowledgable, the breakfast is good, and the packed lunch was enough to keep us going right through the day (we didn’t need dinner!). The rooms are also nice.
Honeycombe House in Mevagissey. Again, the hosts are friendly, and we had one of the balcony rooms with absolutely spectacular views over the bay and harbour. The breakfast was also nice, although you’d be hard pressed to notice given the amazing vista out the breakfast room window!
Chyavallon in Polperro. Friendly host, bright and clean room, lovely village, very delicious breakfast (strawberries and kiwifruit on the fruit platter, yum yum yum!)
Parc-an-Grouse in St Keverne. Perhaps we liked this one mostly because we stayed two nights and had a chance to explore the area – the ponds, St Keverne village and Roskilly’s icecream dairy! However, the room, food and hosts were good and there was a lazy cat and a gorgeous old dog to pat.

Best breakfasts: Chyavallon, Housel Bay Hotel, Copper Kettle, Landrivick Farm (near Helford).


We ate and drank our way through a wide selection of fare – some of it excellent, some of it too hideous to finish. We ate a lot of standard pub grub which is not what you would call inspired in its vegetarian options (J is vegetarian, D is not), and there were some nights we were too exhausted to contemplate leaving the room, so we dined on the biscuits from the coffee trays. There were, however, a few non-B&B food high- and low-lights, which we feel we should share. Let’s start with those things best avoided by future walkers!
• The fish in Fowey: from the takeaway shop on the quayside, this fish was at once watery, soggy, flavourless and rubbery. It was a genuinely unpleasant experience.
• The veggie burger at St Keverne. From Three Tuns Pub, this ‘burger’ was literally a fried veggie patty between two halves of a cardboard-tasting white bun – no cheese, no sauce, no pickle, and only a few bits of salad on the side. Luckily the chips were very good and there was some live music and interesting wall hangings to take one’s mind off the burger.
• The ‘oriental’ meal in Penzance. Can’t for the life of me remember what the place was called, but the food was fairly insipid, chips were on the menu, and the other patrons seemed to be giving us the stink-eye for being a same-sex couple. Fun times.
• The cider in Polperro. From Blue Peter, this cider was The Worst Cider I Have Ever Met. It was warm and flat (as was the beer), and tasted like rancid apple juice mixed with cow urine. Coupled with the ‘hilarious’ (read: sexist/stupid) sayings on the rafters, this is possibly our worst-of-the-walk.

And now onto those places that make your day better, the ones you remember nostalgically when stuck half-way up a horrible hillside without a food source in sight at 2pm a few days later. Heh.
• The pasty in Helford. From Down by the Riverside Café, the pasty was fresh and hot, with chunky filling and a crisp pastry. The cream tea was also noteworthy, with freshly cooked scones a perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon. The staff were also very friendly and helpful.
• The icecream and food at Roskilly’s, St Keverne. Could it get any better than watching an icecream making demonstration then heading to the café and buying cones with huge scoops of delicious creamy goodness? Yes, it can! If you go at lunch time, you could also have a meal with nutritious soup, crispy salad, and tasty vegetarian tart (not J!) in the courtyard.
• The meal at Citrus Café in Falmouth. After however many days of walking through places where vegetarian food consists of chips and salad and maybe soup, finding Citrus Café was an event to remember. Although not all the options are veg, there were many interesting dishes, like a walnut and blue cheese salad, goats cheese tart, a tasty moussaka, and cakes, cakes, cakes! The music and ambience was also lovely and cosy, and just slightly hippie.
• The Thai meal in Plymouth. Thai Palace was literally around the corner from our final B&B, and we thought we would treat ourselves to a nice meal. And it was a fantastic meal, with a wonderful balance of flavours and textures in every dish, good customer service, and – most surprisingly for me – a selection of tasty Thai wine. I had a rose, which proved so good that I had to have another glass. This was the best meal of our walk, and also far and away the most expensive!
• The hot chocolate at Life’s a Beach café in Maenporth deserves an honourable mention. It was exactly the sugar rush we needed at the time: Hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, dotted with marshmallows (vegetarians might like to ask for them to hold the gelatine), drenched with chocolate topping and finished with chocolate shavings.

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